Few companion animals are as captivating as the wonderfully delightful housecat. Their beauty, grace, and mysterious nature draws us to them, even if they don’t always return our affection when or how we want them to. Cat behavior is certainly perplexing, but by making a concerted effort to deepen our understanding of their instincts and desires, we can improve our relationships with them and create happier, more harmonious lives together.
Cat Behavior: Body Language
Cat behavior can range from cute to puzzling to downright annoying. It can be challenging to interpret what our cats want, but paying attention to their body language can give us clues as to what they’re thinking. Cats tend to show their affection for humans through head butting, twitching their tails, or rubbing their cheeks or bodies against us. Meowing is generally reserved for communication with humans and may signal hunger, happiness, or a desire to play.
Cat biting is a common complaint that can often be avoided with close attention to a cat’s body language. Watch for signs that your cat is getting annoyed, including: Tail lashing, flattened ears, skin twitching, suddenly not purring, hissing or growling. Remember, also, that your cat may become annoyed and not make any sounds at all, as some cats are naturally less vocal than others. In this case, flattened ears and enlarged pupils may be the only signal that your cat is unhappy.
If Cats Could Talk
Even though it’s impossible to always know what a cat is trying to tell us, we can improve our relationship with them and set them up for success in the following ways:
- Give them space. In the wild, cats tend to live solitary, private lives. Although modern house cats have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, many still need time alone with plenty of places to hide. Give your cat space when her or she wants it, and provide places for your cat to retreat to when it appears to need a break. Places such as a cardboard box, a cat tree, or a comfortable ledge are all good options.
- Keep a routine. Cats thrive on routine. Strive to keep mealtimes, playtimes, and other cat-related activities on a schedule to keep your kitty purring.
- Let them scratch. Scratching is a natural instinct for cats; it stretches the muscles in the legs and paws, allows them to mark their territory, and relieves stress. Be sure to provide plenty of suitable scratching surfaces to satisfy this urge and to prevent your cat from scratching on furniture and other belongings.
- Have fun. Lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to boredom, aggression, and undesirable behaviors in cats. Make time each day to play with your cat, and be sure to provide a variety of interesting toys. Everyday objects such as empty toilet paper tubes and crumpled up paper bags can provide hours of entertainment. If your cat prefers colorful things with a little dazzle, we have a variety of interesting toys in our Kitty Korner lobby store, all hand-picked by our staff members who have cats.
Cause for Concern
Paying attention to cat behavior includes watching out for potential medical issues. A change in behavior may indicate an underlying health concern. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center if your kitty is showing a change in personality or in eating, drinking, sleeping, or elimination habits. We’re here every day for you and your cat, and are always happy to address your questions and concerns!